21 May Abud’s Story, Refugee from Syria
It’s been a gruelling 8 years since the start of the Syrian conflict, which has left over 500,000 people dead or missing, and 6.2 million internally displaced. The war in the Syrian city of Aleppo has had a devastating impact on many ordinary lives in the city. This is the story of Abud, one of the 5.7 million refugees who managed to escape to begin a new life in Canada.
The names in this story have been changed to help the real Abud remain anonymous.
“I would’ve been number 14”
On a seemingly normal day, 13 of Abud’s friends headed to a barbecue. They were on the public bus en route when security forces stopped the bus, accused all 13 men of being with the opposition, and forcefully took them away. They haven’t been seen since.
“My friends have been missing for five years. I was supposed to go with them that day. I would have been number 14. But I decided to stay at home that day. And that’s why I’m in Canada today. They were just normal guys. The war was total chaos.”
“I’ve got to get out of here”
Abud had been travelling home from work not long after the arrest of his friends when he was confronted and arrested by security forces who falsely accused him of being involved with the opposition. He spent the next 11 days in a tiny jail cell with 200 other men with only enough room to stand. Anyone who wanted to sleep had to lie on top of each other.
This ordeal was a harsh wakeup call for Abud, as he realized that he had to get out of Syria before it was too late. He journeyed to Lebanon with his father, travelling for long hours during the day and sleeping on the streets during the nights. After they managed to find and secure an apartment, his mother, three sisters, and their families made their way to Lebanon, where all nine of them lived together in a small apartment. Life was difficult as a refugee in Lebanon; as the sole breadwinner for his family, he had to work hard everyday. “It was work, home, work, home – there was no life.”
“In that hospital in Lebanon, I thought I was going to die”
While his family settled into life in Lebanon, Abud’s mother had hopes for him to get married and start a family of his own. He met another refugee from Aleppo living in Lebanon named Faten, and they got married. She became pregnant with a baby girl not long after.
On the day that Faten went into labour, Abud and Faten went to the nearby hospital. They were told by hospital staff that the doctor was not there, and to come back in the morning. After a long night of waiting, Abud and Faten returned the next day, only to discover that the baby had died in the womb overnight. She delivered her baby girl stillborn.
“The way you helped us, we felt like you were family”
When Abud and Faten got pregnant with their second baby, they knew that they couldn’t stay in Lebanon. They were considering their options when they were notified that they had been chosen by the government to be resettled as refugees in Canada. Because Faten was already quite far along in her pregnancy, their papers were expedited so she could give birth in Canada.
Abud and Faten were 8 months into the pregnancy and had only been in Canada for a week when they arrived at New Hope. A team of staff and volunteers quickly stepped up to assist her with doctor appointments and prepare items needed for the baby’s arrival. “Everyone took care of us. They drove us to the hospital. They got us furniture and clothes. They helped us with everything.”
On March 19, Faten safely gave birth to a healthy baby boy. In the days leading up to and after the baby’s birth, New Hope residents stayed in the hospital by Faten’s side, exemplifying the heart of the New Hope community. A few weeks after Faten and baby Khaled came home, a church group even volunteered to throw a baby shower for the family.
Meanwhile, Faten’s parents and five brothers were also approved to come to Canada, and arrived just a few weeks after Khaled’s birth. Their greatest heartbreak remains that Abud’s parents and sisters remain in Lebanon, without him there to provide for them. He looks forward to the day that he can be reunited with his family.
“We really like it here. Can we come back to visit?”
Thanks to the generosity of New Hope donors, Abud, Faten and baby Khaled are able to live a safe and happy life in Canada. They will move out of New Hope this month in order to rent a large house with the rest of Faten’s family. While we are sad to see Faten, Abud, and baby Khaled go, we are excited for them to begin this new chapter of their lives and wish them all the best!
Since 2004, New Hope is proud to have provided housing and community to over 500 refugees. With the help of other community groups, we offer safe and affordable housing to refugee families while also helping them access resources they need during their settlement in Canada.
Find out about the number of ways you can get involved and make a difference in the lives of refugee families like Abud’s today!